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Lionsgate Business Model Success Story

Hollywood Reporter tells the parable of Lions Gate Entertainment -- already boasting one of the most envied business models in the film production and distribution sector, they can claim critical kudos as well as commercial success now that their product has nabbed the year's most esteemed film industry prize.

But even before the evening began, their film already had helped the independent studio make history -- marking its best-ever showing with its six nominations and three wins -- in addition to best picture, it took home prizes for original screenplay and editing. With three Oscars for its feature film "Crash," Lionsgate capped off a remarkable year that proved art and commerce can still co-exist.

Ironically, when the independently produced "Crash" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2004, there was scant interest in the Paul Haggis-helmed drama. Clearly, spotting a winning film isn't always easy, particularly if you're part of a legacy industry leadership that's out of touch with its customers, and can't comprehend that thinking-people still crave meaningful stories.

"Surprisingly, no, there wasn't. I'm really not sure of any other interest," Lionsgate Theatrical Films president Tom Ortenberg said. "Our entire acquisitions team saw the very first screening of 'Crash' at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. We loved it. And we immediately entered into negotiations to buy the movie, which we wrapped up the next day."

From the beginning, Ortenberg said he and the Lionsgate brass believed that the picture would be both a commercial and critical success. But even more important, he was eager to distribute a film that would have something to say about the world in which we live.

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